Good Posture: Do you have it?
Good posture: do you have it, or do you only think you have good posture? Can you define good posture and the benefits that you get from having it? Do you know what the downfall and physical ailments that arise from not having good posture? After reading this article on good posture you should be able to answer all of these questions and hopefully take the necessary steps to correct any deficiencies in your posture.
Good Posture: What Does it Mean to Have it?
When you have good posture your muscles are in balance and your body is symmetrical. Usually, any deviations in your posture are due to a lack of strength in particular muscles that hold the body in the needed position. Unfortunately, most people do not realize that they do not have good posture and really do not even care about having a good posture. As an athlete or someone who is fitness minded, you should take great care in having good proper.
Good posture can have a direct effect on you athletic performance and well being. Good posture keeps your internal organs in place and allows them to function properly and efficiently. Good posture has a direct effect on the way you walk, run, jump, lift weights, and perform other athletic skills. For example, if you are a runner and cannot hold your trunk erect while running, you will not have effective push-off or knee drive for a long stride.
When performing exercises for strengthening the necessary muscles for good posture, you are actually performing two functions at once. You are both preventing injuries and also rehabilitating them. Good posture plays an important role in the prevention and rehabilitation of back problems. Simply correcting posture is often all that is needed to relieve back pain.
Good posture in general make you feel good both physically and mentally. Your body will be working at peak performance and you will have more confidence in yourself. Good posture should be of prime focus in all of your fitness activities and non-fitness activities.
Good Posture: How to Tell if you Have it
So now you may be wondering, “Do I have good posture?” Here is an easy quick check to test your posture. Stand with your back against a wall. Your heels, backs of your calves, buttocks, upper back and head should all comfortably touch the wall. If you have to strain to make any of the points touch, you probably have some posture deviations.
Another way to check your posture is to drop a plumb line from the ceiling in front of a mirror. Stand in front of the line with your nose lined up in the center. With good posture you should be symmetrical on both sides of the string. If you notice that one shoulder is higher than the other, or that there is more of your body on one side of the line, then you have some posture deviations.
Good Posture Deviations
There are three posture deviations that can take place: lordosis, scoliosis, and kyphosis. These imbalances occur when the relative strength and flexibility of muscles of the spine are not in balance. The muscles of the spine play a major role in the alignment of the trunk and pelvis.
Good Posture Deviations: Lordosis
With posture deviations of the lordosis there can be an anterior tilt of the pelvis where the superior iliac of the pelvis move forward and downward from the normal anatomical position. The muscle imbalances are that the hip-joint muscles are shortened (possibly tight) and the abdominal muscles are lengthened or weak. The anterior tilt of the pelvis place the lumbar vertebrae in a potentially dangerous posture position because of the increased disc pressure and a change in the line of gravity of the trunk.
With a posterior tilt the hip flexor, the lower back muscles stretch while the abdominal and hamstring muscles shorten. Posterior tilt is not as common and is not brought about by muscle imbalances. However, it has the same dangerous potential as anterior tilt.
Good Posture Deviations: Scoliosis
With posture deviations of scoliosis there is excessive lateral curvature of the spinal column. If the curvature is relatively minor you can do exercises on the concave side and strengthen and shorten the convex side of the curve to help correct your posture. If there is also rotation of the vertebral column, then the affected abdominal oblique and/or erector spinae muscles must be strengthened, again to help correct your posture.
Good Posture Deviations: Kyphosis
With kyphosis posture deviations there is an exaggerated anterior-posterior curvature of the spinal column. It is seen most frequently in older adults and is a bending forward in the thoracic area of the spine. It is usually associated with osteoporosis and osteoarthritis and can result in a humpback position. The muscle imbalances are that the internal oblique, shoulder adductors (pectorals and latissimus) and the intercostals are possibly tight. The possible weak muscles which must be strengthened are: the erector spinae of the thoracic spine, the scapular adductors (mid and lower trapezius).
Other posture deviations called “flat-back” and “rounded shoulders’ are associated with kyphosis but are not the same condition.
Good Posture and Athletic Performance
Since none of us are perfect, we all have some posture alignment deviation where our body does not perform at maximum efficiency. As an athlete who is striving for maximal performance, it is imperative that you are aware of the posture alignment of your body parts. With improper posture there is a shift of a body segment in relation to another segment; and there is a shifting of joint positions in relation to the normal gravitational line. With good posture, all body segments line up properly so that there is no undue stress that falls on one particular joint. If you maintain an imbalanced posture body position, your body must adjust the controlling ligaments and muscles. Simply put, this means that when one body part is out of alignment, another body part must also get out of alignment to balance it. Remember, about 75 to 80 percent of the work that the muscles do is just to obtain and maintain joint stability. There is no need to over work them with correcting for improper posture.
Good Posture and Having a Well Balanced Body
One way to maintain a proper balanced position is to have highly developed agonist and antagonist muscles (see: Kinesiology: The Study of Human Motion). This is very important for the development of coordinated, skilled movements since antagonists control the speed, range, and force of the action of agonists. It is very important to have a good balance between the opposing muscles. When you do not have good posture the normal length of the opposing muscle is changed where one end shortens and its opponent must stretch. Any athletic skill that you perform will be affected by these inefficient muscles.
To have and maintain a well balanced body posture you must proportionately develop the muscles (agonist) on one side of the joint with muscles on the other side of the joint (antagonist). Doing this will help the muscles keep your joints in the natural state and not allow deviations to occur. Maintaining this balance will not only make you feel better and improve your posture, it will enhance your sports performance.
Having good muscle tone (muscular tonus) is directly associated with good blood circulation and economy of movement. With poor posture the improper alignment results in additional muscle effort and strain. This excess muscle strain can be sufficient enough to cause unneeded fatigue and can eventually affect your health. These chronic types of strains on the body can lead to the development of arthritic types of ailments later in life. So, you can see how important it is to have a fitness lifestyle especially if you want to have a high quality of life when you get older.
The Keystone of Our Body – The Spine
The spine play a large part in good posture since it must support the weight of our head, trunk, and upper extremities. It encloses and protects the spinal cord and the nerves that lead to and from it. The spine is also the solid point of attachment for most of the muscles anchoring and controlling the pectoral shoulder girdle and the latissimus dorsi and other muscles of the back which move the arms. To perform these movements the spine requires strong muscles to supported the spinal unit. The spin should be firm, carefully articulated and not too flexible. The range of motion should be about 30 to 40 degrees of spinal flexion forward, and 15 to 20 degrees spinal extension backwards. Flexibility beyond these limits can lead to spinal problems.
The Seated Position and the Problems it Causes the Spine
How can sitting be bad toward your goal of having good posture since it feels so good? If you’re like me, after a long day it feels so good to sit down and relax. As an athlete, sitting down is one of the most common non-training oversights that we take for granted. Most of use are careful about our posture and form while running, biking, or whatever activity we may participate in. It should be noted that these activities may comprise less than 20 percent of all our daily activities. Most athletes don’t realize that it is the other 80 percent of out non-training activities that problems can arise. And when they do arise we typically blame them on our training.
Every person spends a considerable amount of time sitting, and this has dramatic effects on the spine and your posture. There is actually more pressure on the vertebral disks when sitting than while standing or even lying down. Again, most back pain is not normally associated with sitting whereas it is with standing. The interesting thing is, is that most people who experience back pain while standing for long periods of time feel better when they sit down. So, how can sitting actually be the cause of the back pain?
There needs to be made a distinction between the back muscles and the vertebral disks. Standing for extended periods of time actually places very low pressure on the disks, however you begin to feel pain. The pain that you are experiencing is actually from fatigued weak lower back muscles. An increased pressure on the disks does not necessarily cause immediate pain. So, while sitting we are unaware of the pressure and the long term effects of deforming the disks.
Posture while standing distributes body weight over a wide variety of structures such as your muscles, tendon, ligaments, and joints. Once you sit the you rib cage (abdominal corset) relaxes which causes a majority of your body weight to shift to your disks. As mentioned earlier, you will not feel any pain immediately. However, over the long haul the constant increased load on the disks can result in many problems from impinged nerves to degenerative osteoarthritic changes, all leading to improper posture.
So What are You to Do?
Like most of us we cannot escape having to sit; and most of us do the majority of our sitting at work. Since sitting is inescapable, here are a few things that you can do to help your posture by creating a “sitting friendly” environment at work:
1) Use a chair with a lumbar support. (Lowers pressure on the disks)
2) Choose a chair with armrests. (Lowers pressure on the disks)
3) Sit in a reclined position of about 120 degrees. (Lowers pressure on the disks)
4) Choose a chair wide enough to be able to spread your knees apart. (Knees apart will reduce slumping)
5) Choose a chair with a wide variety of adjustability options.
6) At your desk your forearms should rest on your desk with your elbows bent at a 90 degree angle. (Reduces stress on the trapezius and surrounding muscles of the upper back and neck)
7) If possible try to limit the time you are sitting.
Be Good to Your Spine
Treat your spine with care and you will help keep posture problems at bay. Sitting for prolonged periods can have an accumulating effect on the spine and cause you posture problems. You do not need to suffer this fate: posture, back, and spinal problems are avoidable.
Good Posture and the Feet
Small deviations in your feet can lead to dramatic changes in your entire body posture. If your feet are not strong enough to keep your body in balance, and not strong enough to keep your shins in line with your feet; the knees can change their position. The has the domino effect on affecting the hips, which will affect the spine, which then affects the head position; all leading to posture issues.
Your feet also have a profound affect on the ability to balance your weight. Any issues with your feet will have a direct effect on your upper body and any affects on the upper body will result in affects in the lower body. You can see the evil cause and affect that take place with poor feet posture.
Remember, good posture will ultimately lead to better health, internal organs that are more efficient and effective, the prevention of back issues and pain, the prevention injuries, make you a better athletes, and an overall happier more confident person. A better you!